Our Sites & Exhibits
Mabee Farm Historic Site
The oldest farm in the Mohawk Valley (1705), Mabee Farm Historic Site offers visitors today vibrant educational and recreational opportunities.
Over 10,000 people come to Mabee Farm each year. With its deep family history (the Mabees lived here for nearly three centuries!) and riverside beauty, it’s the perfect place to explore Mohawk Valley heritage.
Walk across weathered pine floors in the home of settlers Jan and Annetje. Say hello to our resident goat and sheep. Ogle the hand-pegged Dutch Barn (1760s) or just meander through our orchards, gardens, and forest trails. Tied to the dock or parked behind the Dutch Barn sit our reproduction 18th century bateaux, the De Sagar and the Bobbie G, giving visitors an idea of how goods were shipped up and down the river.
With the opening of the George E. Franchere Educational Center in 2011, Mabee Farm is now also home year-round to interactive exhibitions, lecture series, workshops, and school programs plus extensive historical and archaeological collections.
Museum & Library
Nestled in the heart of Schenectady’s Stockade Historic District (described by the National Park Service as “the highest concentration of historic period homes in the country”) is the Schenectady History Museum and the Grems-Doolittle Library.
Join us throughout the year to take a walking tour of the Stockade and beyond. Or, come in during our speaker series and meet a renowned speaker and talk history (or politics, or art, or technology!) And, of course, check out our interactive exhibits that tell the many stories of Schenectady.
The Museum is the perfect starting point for discovering the history of Schenectady County. Through programs and interactive exhibits, museum visitors can explore how Schenectady County has changed over the years, the impact the Schenectady area has had on national events, as well as the rich and diverse history that Schenectady County has to offer.
Adjacent to the Schenectady History Museum is the Grems-Doolittle Library, the perfect spot for researching Schenectady history!
The Erie Canal: America’s First School of Engineering
(at the Schenectady History Museum, ongoing)
Celebrating the bicentennial of the 1817 construction of the Erie Canal would not be complete without remembering one of the Canal’s greatest contributions to the world: stunning advancements in technological innovation and inspiring America’s first engineering schools. Less than a mile down the road from the Erie Canal, Union College founded its civil engineering department in 1845, the second in North America. This exhibition was curated by Union College Museum Theory and Practice students Meghan Bentley and Emilee Buytkins.
Together Until the End: Schenectady in World War I (at the Schenectady History Museum, through November 2017)
Devastating, morbid, and totally unprecedented, World War I changed our world entirely and redefined modernity. Now, 100 years later, we’re exploring the Great War’s effect on Schenectady and the people who lived here. The soldiers who fought, the nurses who cared, and everyone at home whose world was reshaped, completely.
Changing Waters: The Story of the Mohawk River (at the Mabee Farm through April 2017)
How has the river that stretches from one end of our county
to the other changed our lives, and how have we influenced
the river over the centuries? You might be surprised to find
out just how big of an impact it has on your life! This winter, explore our bateaux up close and inside, and take a journey through the times and tides of the Mohawk River.
Local Eats! What does your food say about you? (at the Schenectady History Museum, ongoing)
Does what you eat represent who you are? Can someone learn about politics, technology, or where you come from by looking at what is on your plate? Visit our exhibit, and find the answer to these questions and more!
Boomtown: Immigration, Technology, and Urban Schenectady (at the Schenectady History Museum, ongoing)
In this interactive exhibit, leave your mark on our map, find your favorite hat style, dance to music from different eras, and imagine what it would be like to emigrate today. Discover why people immigrate, and immigration’s impact on Schenectady’s urban and cultural landscapes.
Medicine on the Mohawk: featuring the collection of Dr. Spring (at the Schenectady History Museum, ongoing)
For centuries, reliable cures were difficult to find. Schenectady – like every village and city – faced waves of deadly disease. Smallpox in the 1700s. Cholera and Typhoid in the 1800s. Spanish Flu in the 1900s. Yet, for nearly as long as Schenectadians have fought illness, doctors and nurses have been here healing. The tools doctors use have changed, as you’ll discover in Medicine on the Mohawk. But the goal remains the same: work together and tirelessly to make us healthy.
Setting Schenectady’s Table (at the Schenectady History Museum, ongoing)
Our ceramics collection illustrates the changing nature of trade, food, and hospitality in Schenectady’s history. Though techniques and styles evolved through the years, these ceramics evoke a sentiment we feel today. The pleasure of good food and drink, shared with great company.
1834 Yates Dollhouse (at the Schenectady History Museum, ongoing)
The second oldest dollhouse in America has spent it’s whole life in the Stockade! With original early-1800s furnishings and a painful history, it is one of SCHS’s most evocative pieces!
Vote Here! Vote Now! (March – November 2016)
Left or right? Conservative, liberal, or independent? “Vote Here! Vote Now!” explores democracy in Schenectady, and encourages visitors to consider and discuss political issues – historical and current. Discover Schenectady’s political legacy by talking, touching, listening, feeling — and learning learn how vital your voice is in the 2016 elections! Vote Here! Vote Now! is part of the VHVN! project, supported by a grant from the New York Council for the Humanities.
Hops & Hogsheads: Beer from Colonial to Craft Brew (2015 – 2016)
Explore the impact of beer on the region’s early Dutch Settlers, winding through history to today’s two Schenectady County breweries. From the moment beer first entered New York in 1609 aboard Henry Hudson’s Haelve Maen, it has shaped our history, our laws, and our culture. Visit the Schenectady History Museum today to learn just how beer has changed your life!
In Whom We Trust: at the Crossroads of Faith & Community (July – October, 2016; now on display at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Schenectady)
Through photography by Michael Diana and oral histories, this project explores the religious diversity that enriches Schenectady County and the underlying humanity that unites us all.
In Whom We Trust is supported by a grant from the New York Council on the Arts.
The Schenectady Municipal Golf Course 1935-2015: Eighty Years and Counting (2016)
This exhibit tells the story of “Muni,” one of the many construction projects during the Great Depression that gave work to men who had no other opportunities. Nearly 1,400 people put hard work into this golf course which stands today as a testament to triumphing over this difficult time in American history.
Journeys: Postcards of Migration (March – July 2016)
A selection of postcards showcase movement and migration in Schenectady. Humans move across the county, on foot and by railroads, canals and more. Migrating birds face challenges – and put on a show! — each year as they return to Schenectady County from their wintering grounds. And, plants are on the move too, sprouting up across our gardens and forests! Movement and migration shape the world around us. Let’s celebrate it through the lens of our postcard collection!
A Night on the Town in Schenectady 1850-1950: One Hundred Years of Fashion & Frivolity (June 2015 – March 2016)
From the Victorian Age through World War II, Schenectady was the place to be. Socialites wearing the latest fashions frequented hotels, theaters, and restaurants downtown like the Edison Hotel and the Van Curler Opera House. From Civil War era ballgowns to flapper dresses, this exhibit showcases trendy evening gowns and explores one hundred years of Schenectady fashion and nightlife.
Enigmatic Shapes by Todd J. Grieve (December 2015 – March 2016)
Todd’s sculpture walks the line of ambiguity. Intriguing shapes and forms combine with the viewer’s imagination to create individual experiences.
#schenectadydoesntsuck (September – December 2015)
The #schenectadydoesntsuck exhibit at Mabee Farm examines Schenectady through the lens of social media. It highlights the @schenectadydoesntsuck account’s best-loved images: Local landmarks. Stunning sunsets. Streets. Trees. Neighbors. Love. It celebrates Schenectady, and the people who call this place home. Schenectady may not be perfect, but at its core, #schenectadydoesntsuck.
It Came from Schenectady: Science Fiction in the Capital Region (March – September 2015)
What if you had a superpower? What if you could travel through time? What if machines overtook Schenectady? “What if” questions inspire writers, artists, and filmmakers to create new worlds and imagine alternate realities. Featuring an Apollo EMU spacesuit (and a replica you can try on!), experimental equipment and machinery from GE, original science fiction cover art, hand-made costumes, an interactive studio set, film footage, and more, It Came from Schenectady: Science Fiction in the Capital Region invites you to discover the “what ifs” that inspired the creations of local science fiction innovators, including Kurt Vonnegut, Ray Nelson, and Glendora. Join us on a journey through time and space as we explore the legacy of science fiction in Schenectady County!
Unlocked: Discovering the Erie Canal in Schenectady (July 2015 – September 2015)
Once America’s great route west, the Erie Canal today is a place of recreation, exploration, and sometimes neglect. Through photographs by enthusiasts Michael Diana, Lou Restifo, and Mary Zawacki, “unLocked” captures the mystery and beauty of the Erie Canal in Schenectady.
Witness to Assassination: President Lincoln’s Death and the Schenectady Connection (April 2015 – July 2015)
A bandage, soaked in President Lincoln’s blood. Ink blots in the diary of Union Army soldier and Schenectadian Charles Lewis, telling of the fatal moment at Ford’s Theatre. These and other artifacts capture the shock and sadness of America in April 1865, and reveal Schenectady’s connection to the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.
Visualizing the Lexicon of a Loving Hand: Works by Brennan Goodwin & Jackie Zysk (May 2015 – July 2015)
Artists and University at Albany – SUNY graduate students Brennan Goodwin and Jackie Zysk explore nostalgia and childhood in their exhibition “Visualizing the Lexicon of a Loving Hand” on display at Mabee Farm Historic Site.
Second Look: Oil Paintings by Lisa David (February 2015 – May 2015)
What many of us pass by in our daily lives, Lisa David paints with her brush. Second Look: Paintings by Lisa David features scenes David deems worthy of a “second look.” Inspired by what others neglect to see, David captures the essence of a moment by focusing on subtle differences in light.
Where Do You Come From? (November 2014 – February 2015)
Celebrate the diverse history of Schenectady County through the artwork and family photographs of local artists and community members! The exhibit, on display at the Mabee Farm Historic Site through February, highlights the stories of our community through photographs, collages, sculptures, and more.
Where Do You Come From? is part of the Exploring Schenectady County’s Immigrant Past project, supported by grants from the New York Council for the Humanities and the Schenectady County Initiative Program.
Where Fires Once Burned: The Photography of Michael Diana (August – November 2014)
Sunlight streams through broken glass and shattered roofs to illuminate behemoth machines and labyrinths of rusted piping. Spaces that once roared with activity now echo, empty and forgotten. Michael Diana’s photography documents the silent, forgotten factories of the region, placing them into historical and artistic context. For, like a Shakespearean tragedy, there is a certain beauty to these grand ruins.
Canals and Railroads: Collaboration and Competition (June – November 2014)
A traveling exhibit developed by the Alco Historical and Technical Society, Canals and Railroads: Collaboration and Competition explores the beginnings of the Canal Era and New York State’s early railroads, which were built to enhance and complement— rather than compete with— the waterway system.
The Story of Shoes (April – October 2014)
A farmer pulls on his wooden clogs to head out into his field, a bride steps into a pair of satin heels on her wedding day, a businessperson laces up their shoes before going to work. What we put on our feet varies based on age, activity, and event. Shoes tell the people around us our occupations, our fashion sense, or our status in society. Whether they lace, tie, or Velcro, each one of them has a story hidden in their sole. If your shoes could speak, what would they say?
Nostalgia- Artwork by Irma Mastrean (May – August 2014)
Irma Mastrean’s paintings evoke a sense of longing for times forgotten, while still leaving viewers with hope for the future. An empty house ponders its last occupants while waiting for a new family. The last snow of the season falls, yet begins to offer a glimpse of spring. Mastrean frequently visits this theme in her paintings, which include a number of local scenes. Anyone who knows the area will recognize homes, barns, and buildings, some of which no longer stand today.
Visions of the Past: Artwork by Jennifer Richard-Morrow (January – April 2014)
Art exhibit highlighting the work of local artist Jennifer Richard-Morrow’s captivating images from around the Mohawk Valley, past and present.
Swept Away: The History and Culture of Brooms (October 2013 – March 2014)
A broom is one of the of the most common household objects, always on hand when dirt or dust needs to be swept off of the floor. How did brooms come to America and how were they traditionally made? The new broommaking exhibit at the Franchere Education Center introduces visitors to the history behind the broomcorn broom, its importance in the Mohawk Valley, and its westward sweep across the nation.
Building on the Farm: A Legacy of Architecture at the Mabee Farm (March – October 2013)
From the stone house to the inn, from the brick house to the barn, the Mabee Farm is home to a number of interesting architectural gems. The exhibit focuses on the unique architectural aspects of the current buildings on site and tells the story of the evolution of the buildings at the Mabee Farm.
The Art of Karen Cummings (September – October 2013)
A display of the work of this local artist, featuring local landscapes, animal portraits, house portraits, and still-life paintings.
Inspiration from the Past: The Art of James Whitbeck (February – March 2013)
Take a trip back in time and view artwork inspired by the Dutch Masters of the 16th and 17th century. Whitbeck’s art is created with the earliest oil techniques that were used in the Netherlands in the production of a still life. This style culminates in producing vibrant colors and effects, giving the final product a detailed, realistic feeling.
Freedom: A History of Us (January 2013)
Explore how slavery in America developed into an institution, and how it came to be condemned as it divided the nation during the Civil War. There is an early fragment of Abraham Lincoln’s “House Divided” speech, letters by abolitionists and slaves, and personal letters from soldiers who fought in the Civil War. Opened on the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the exhibit highlights the role slavery played in the United States, in New York State, and here at Mabee Farm.